After significant fraud, follow-up audit of Pierce County Housing Authority finds improvement, but issues remain


Dec. 1, 2022

OLYMPIA – The Pierce County Housing Authority has taken steps to improve its financial safeguards since a $7 million misappropriation two years ago, but more needs to be done, according to an accountability audit released today by the Office of the Washington State Auditor.

Does your government use electronic disbursements? SAO offers tips and resources for evaluating your cyber fraud risks

The disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in increased dependence on technology and electronic payment networks. This shift has created new opportunities for bad actors to steal public resources and assets from your government. By using various cyber fraud schemes, such as fake email addresses or compromised email accounts, bad actors are successfully tricking governments into rerouting electronic disbursements to their own accounts. And the fraudsters are raking in a hefty profit.

Setting the tone at the top: SAO’s new fraud-prevention resource for elected officials and members of appointed boards

Elected officials and members of appointed boards have a responsibility to understand their government's operations. They also have a key role to play when it comes to preventing, detecting and responding to employee fraud. Employee fraud often comes as a shock to those charged with oversight of a government, but the reality is that any organization—from a large city government to a small special purpose district—is vulnerable to fraud.

Strategies for identifying and combatting time theft in remote work environments

The COVID-19 pandemic required governments and other organizations to adjust their operating structure to a remote environment. For many, this structure became the new norm, and governments continue to operate remotely or in hybrid formats. These structures have significant benefits for employees because they offer flexibility, eliminate commute times and more. However, remote or hybrid environments can also have setbacks because they can amplify distractions that affect productivity, or worse—employees could be committing time theft by not working the time they say they are.

A sneak peek at what SAO has in store for International Fraud Awareness Week 

Every year, the Special Investigations Team at the Office of the Washington State Auditor investigates frauds in all types of governments, from large state agencies to small towns and special purpose districts. In 2021, our Office examined 46 reported fraud cases, representing more than $647 million in misappropriated public resources. No matter the type or size of your government, fraud could happen to you and, if left undetected, it could have significant financial implications.

New audit reports find Mason County Fire District officials misappropriated public funds, did not comply with state laws


Sept. 20, 2022

OLYMPIA – Today the Office of the Washington State Auditor released a fraud report and audit of Mason County Fire District No. 12, showing almost $70,000 in misappropriated public funds, as well as $95,000 in unsupported expenses.

Auditors also documented an overall disregard for state laws at the District in areas including ethics and conflicts of interest, open public meetings and financial transparency.

Are your ACH internal controls strong enough to protect you from fraudsters? SAO has a new resource to help you

Do you remember the Nigerian prince scheme—that long-running internet fraud where the bad actor drains your bank account after obtaining your information? Fraudsters made $703,000 in 2018 alone on that one. While some fraudsters are still working that old scam, others have moved on to impersonating your employees and vendors to redirect Automated Clearing House (ACH) payments meant for payroll direct deposits or vendor payments. In fact, Washington governments reported $4.7 million lost to these schemes in 2020 and 2021.